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Charles, Diana Agree to Divorce By Aug. 28

July 12, 1996

LONDON (AP) _ Prince Charles and Princess Diana announced today that they have agreed on a swift divorce, after 3 1/2 years of separation and public sniping and more than a decade of misery.

The split, which their lawyers said would be final Aug. 28, brings an end to a royal match that began with a glittering wedding and degenerated into a soap opera of tears, betrayal, bulimia and the odd suicide attempt.

Proceedings will be initiated in court on Monday and a preliminary decree of divorce is expected that day, said a statement from Mishcon de Reya, the law firm representing Diana.

Diana, 35, relinquishes any claim to one day being queen of England. But she will still be a wealthy princess living in a palace, free to pursue her dream of being ``a queen in people’s hearts.″

That role will be subject to the queen’s consent. Buckingham Palace said any of her activities that involves public funds ``will be undertaken only with the permission of the sovereign″ as advised by her ministers.

Charles, 47, the heir to Queen Elizabeth II, could become the first divorced English king since George I, who reigned from 1714 to 1727.

He’s also free, if he wishes, to marry Camilla Parker Bowles, the old flame that Diana despised. Mrs. Parker Bowles returned to the marriage market in March 1995 when she and her husband divorced.

The announcement came just ahead of Charles’s and Diana’s 15th wedding anniversary on July 29.

Their financial agreement was not announced, but the London tabloid The Sun said the deal included a lump sum payment of $26.35 million to Diana. She also will receive $620,000 annually to staff and run her private office.

She will retain her apartments at Kensington Palace, a Buckingham Palace spokesman said, but her office will be moved out of St. James’s Palace, where Charles is based.

Diana agreed to relinquish the title of ``Her Royal Highness,″ to be known in future as Diana, Princess of Wales. Theoretically, she would be obliged to curtsy to her sons _ Prince William, 14, and Prince Harry, 11 _ who both carry the HRH title.

That issue apparently was a difficult one for a court whose mentality, in significant ways, remains locked in a time of powdered wigs, hoop skirts and strict deference to rank.

After a spectacular wedding at St. Paul’s Cathedral on July 29, 1991, the marriage quickly soured. Charles reportedly found Diana temperamental and manipulative, and resented her great popularity. She regarded Charles and his family as cold and uncaring.

The public airing of dirty laundry created a spectacle that led some to question whether Britain’s royal family was worth preserving. Queen Elizabeth II herself was visibly pained by the constant stream of public recriminations and revelations about her son’s tortured marriage.

Charles and Diana both publicly admitted adultery, and Diana said in a televised interview last November that she was so unhappy after the birth of her first son that she developed bulimia, an eating disorder.

A book published in 1992 _ ``Diana, Her True Story,″ based on interview with her friends _ claimed that Diana had made five attempts at suicide. She admitted in the TV interview that she had hurt herself in times of despair, but did not elaborate.

Last December, fed up with the bickering, the queen urged Diana and Charles to get on with a divorce.

Under British law, a couple must be separated for five years to have a divorce without the consent of both parties. Diana, who has spoken of the trauma of her own parents’ divorce, had not wanted the marriage to end.

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